Sport has a funny way of bringing people together or making them fierce opponents, and for some members of the Westman Magic under-14 girls’ softball team, they can fit into either category depending on what time of the year it is.
During the winter, Brandon’s Kaitlyn Slator and Jenna Marshall were battling each other for playing time in net as the Westman Wildcats’ Bantam AAA team’s goaltender. They would also frequently have to face two of their Magic teammates, Neepawa left winger Jodi Anderson of the Yellowhead Chiefs, and Baldur defenceman Brooke Roeges of the Pembina Valley Hawks.
In fact, the Wildcats faced both teams in playoff games at provincials this past season, beating the Chiefs in the semifinals before falling to the Hawks in the final.
Once the spring rolls around, however, the quartet comes together to play softball for the Magic and they’ve become good friends.
"I think it brings us closer together because we all want the same thing," said Marshall, who serves as a catcher and a shortstop with the Magic. "We all come together ... I actually kind of liked it. Next season during hockey I’ll know them so we can be nicer to each other on the ice."
The girls won’t admit to any trash talking on the ice when they’re playing against each other, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a friendly rivalry.
Roeges, who played softball with Slator and Marshall before she competed against them in hockey, isn’t afraid to joke about her on-ice success every so often, especially Pembina’s 4-0 win over Westman in this year’s provincial hockey final.
"I especially like how I go east for hockey and west for softball, so I get to know all the people," Roeges said. "I’ve always liked (playing softball with them in the summer), especially because we beat them and I make fun of it. I always bug them for it. It’s not hard. We’re all close enough that we’re not huge competitors."
While all four of them had success on different teams while winning medals at hockey provincials — Yellowhead beat Eastman 4-2 for bronze — they also proved to be a force when they came together on the ball diamond.
The Magic finished second in their age group in the Manitoba Ladies Super Softball League this season with an 8-5-1 record. They also won a tournament in Regina and finished second at another in Fargo, N.D. Unfortunately, their year didn’t end they way they hoped as they went 1-2 in their pool at the provincial championship in Brandon over the weekend and missed the playoffs.
Slator, who is a catcher and first baseman for the Magic, still felt the year went well.
"It’s good," she said. "It’s fun. We’re a good team. We’ve been playing good and doing good at some tournaments, so that’s good."
Provincials was the last event for the Magic this season, and the players are looking forward to some down time before they get ready for another season of hockey.
One thing that won’t end, however, is their friendships as they looking forward to seeing each other on the ice this winter.
"I didn’t know any of them before, but now I’m friends with them all," said Anderson, who is the Magic’s third baseman. "It will be different next year because I’ll get to see them all the time and play against them."